David Masondo. Picture: SOWETAN
David Masondo. Picture: SOWETAN

Deputy finance minister David Masondo has been accused of using his influence to have an alleged former lover of his arrested, investigative news outfit amaBhungane has reported. 

This follows a sting operation by the Hawks in August in which it arrested a woman after a complaint by the deputy minister that she wanted a R300,000 payoff from him or else she would reveal certain information. 

According to the amaBhungane report, a thread of WhatsApp messages between the deputy minister and the 30-year-old woman revealed a more complicated relationship that involved a terminated pregnancy and an initial offer of payment from Masondo's side.

Masondo’s lawyer, Victor Nkwashu, did not respond to a fresh request for comment, but told amaBhungane that the allegations were “opportunistic, malicious and spurious”.

The WhatsApp messages show that the dispute was mainly around the woman, who is not named in the report, accusing Masondo of bullying her to have an abortion. She also apparently wanted the two families to discuss damages while he did not want relatives involved nor any communication between the woman and his wife.

The woman reportedly rejected payment offers from Masondo several times.

According to amaBhungane it is not clear when Masondo went to the police and on what grounds he laid charges, but his complaint allegedly seems to have gone to the top of the pile quickly, resulting in the Hawks launching a sting operation.

She was arrested in August and was held for a weekend, but never appeared before a magistrate, an experience she described to amaBhungane as “one of the most violent acts I have experienced”.

According to amaBhungane the Whatsapp messages show that the woman was relentless. As the dispute escalated, she bombarded Masondo with messages, including about dreams of his and his wife’s death. Masondo appeared to have viewed as intimidation and harassment.

The deputy minister, a married father of two, was appointed to the position in April this year and earlier served as finance MEC in Limpopo.

In July Masondo told parliament that his comments to Business Day on monetary policy were in no way an attempt to influence the Reserve Bank, the independence of which is guaranteed by the constitution.

In that interview, Masondo questioned the monetary policy stance adopted over the past few years by the Bank.

“The key issue for me is whether the interest rates are high. For instance, do the levels of interest rates ease access to credit by the private sector [business and households], mainly to support the government-stated objectives of promoting black-owned businesses, properties and the growth of small and medium enterprises in general?”

Following the publication of the interview finance minister Tito Mboweni and Reserve Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago issued a joint statement saying that effective co-ordination of fiscal and monetary policy “is a central pillar of good macro-economic management and policy certainty”. 

“The National Treasury has always respected the independence of the Bank, and communicates, when necessary, on fiscal and economic policy. The ministry of finance would, under normal circumstances not comment on the monetary policy stance or interfere in monetary policy decision making or decisions of the Bank. That is the role of the Bank. The Bank does not comment on fiscal policy and tax matters,” the statement read.